Whitehorse city council is scheduled to vote on the final two readings of the zoning Phase 7 in Whistle Bend on July 22. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse council prepares to zone the last phase of Whistle Bend

Whistle Bend Phase 7 lots are expected to be available in 2023

It will likely be four years — 2023 — before the potential 90 lots in Phase 7 in Whistle Bend hit the market, but the City of Whitehorse could be closer to making that a reality on July 22 when council is scheduled to vote on the final two readings of the zoning for the area.

Mélodie Simard, the city’s planning manager, presented council July 15 with a public hearing report and recommendation that the zoning move ahead to the final two readings.

The public hearing was held July 8 and with no one speaking out or making written submissions, it appears Whitehorse residents have no major issues with the proposed zoning that would allow for 90 residential properties zoned for larger single detached or duplex homes.

Coun. Steve Roddick wondered aloud why residents didn’t comment. Simard said she was only speculating, but suggested the area not being near any residential properties may have been a factor.

Roddick questioned the costs of advertising the public hearing and whether there may be better ways to communicate with residents. Currently the city sends out notices to those within 100 m, posts signs on the property being considered (though in this case it is not yet accessible so signs did not go up) and advertise in local newspapers and on the city website.

Simard said the cost of notifying residents about public hearings varies depending on factors like how many notices need to be mailed out, whether a sign needs to be made and more. In this case the costs were not significant.

Phase 7 of Whistle Bend would be on the outer perimeter of the neighborhood. Along with the homes, a large greenbelt is also proposed over the sewage force main where development cannot occur. The perimeter trail that is a major feature of the Whistle Bend neighborhood would continue around Phase 7 as well, allowing for active transportation options.

“If Council approves this amendment, the City and Yukon Government (which is developing the neighbourhood) will be able to move forward with subdivision approval and detailed engineering design,” Simard stated in her report to council. “It is expected that construction will begin in 2020 or 2021 and lots will be available in 2023.”

In the meantime, approximately 200 of the final Phase 3 and Phase 4 lots are slated to be available through two lotteries, a first later this month or next and a second in September/October, Yukon Department of Community Services spokeswoman Bonnie Venton Ross wrote in an email.

The territory is also working with the city to prepare for a commercial lot release in the neighbourhood in the year ahead.

Lots in Phases 5 and 6 are targeted for release over the next two years.

Venton Ross said it takes about three years to develop lots before they are ready for sale, depending on factors including the availability of contractors, weather and the length of the construction season in any given year.

The timelines had Coun. Laura Cabott asking if there was any way to speed up the schedule given the high demand in Whitehorse for lots and housing right now.

“Land Development Branch is advancing development in Whistle Bend as quickly as possible to address current and anticipated future housing demand,” Venton Ross wrote. “We have been managing three concurrent phases of development for the last number of years to deliver a variety of lots.”

As Cabott pointed out, businesses are struggling because they can’t find workers who want to come to the territory for work due to the high cost and low availability of housing.

Phase 7 marks the final phase of planned residential development for the neighbourhood though the city, Yukon government and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council (which has settlement land in the area) are working on future plans for the few remaining portions of the area. Simard said the three areas could potentially allow for about 2,000 housing units though details on the type of units and other features of the areas have not been planned yet.

“That work is underway,” Simard said.

Work on the city’s Official Community Plan is also happening with that effort looking at the next major sites for new development following the build out of Whistle Bend.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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